What’s up with our Television service?


By Isis Win

Contrary to the majority of the people, I rarely watch network TV. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against television, especially considering I am a visual type of person. But most of the material shown in the networks have nothing that really triggers my interest. However, I enjoy watching NBC TV news, some of the political talk/discussion shows (except all at Fox TV), I am quite a follower of several programs at PBS and occasionally I watch Dancing with the Stars. But that is because ballroom dancing is something I appreciate a lot, especially after taking classes for 6 months long ago. But definitely, I never miss the summer and winter Olympics on national TV or the World Cup. You would rarely see me in front of the “Idiot Box” watching professional or college football, basketball, baseball, etc. games. I love watching sports games right there and experience the catharsis of competition between two rivals and the excitement of the crowd. Nevertheless, I’ve never been a fan of any TV show where competition is the issue. Specially those Reality shows that every single network presents. I admit though, I watched the show named The Voice a couple of times, and it wasn’t bad to my taste. It wasn’t, because the talents I saw during the Blind Competition simply were incredibly talented people – that in my modest opinion, deserve a shot at a professional successful career and that otherwise, are professionally doomed.

My personal view about what the commercial channels present, is nothing close to what I enjoy and enjoy supporting. Not to mention at times, many of those commercials are ridiculous and mostly long interruptions. Although I believe entertainment is a vital, needed part of most people lives, such content should present material that represents something that has a good value in real life. But there is little of real and good value in most TV shows. In fact, many simply present a distorted version of the realities we find in life. And most of those “realities” are the ones that make me wonder: why would someone care about that stuff as part of their entertainment in daily life? But that is a matter of taste or preference. I accept the fact that everyone is different.

Today’s television is not the memory I have of my early days watching TV. Then I wonder, what did change? On the contrary, those who are fortunate to afford cable or satellite TV, have access to so many great TV shows. Perhaps most people consider those not of entertainment value because basically, they are didactic. The instructional type, the learning stuff that we don’t know about or know very little, such as cooking, science, history, travel, etc. However, affording those types of programing nowadays is very pricey for most budgets. I often wonder myself about that expense and my stupidity of spending the cost of my own service. But there are so many others things I wonder about. However, talking about expenses, there are many things today that today are hard to afford today. Stuff that didn’t cost a penny before, or as much, such as drinking water, so many services, gas, ice cream, even the movies I enjoy so very much! Tickets in the neighborhood of $10.00+? Not to mention if you are like myself a traditional movie goer that must have the bucket of freshly made pop-corn and a drink. That set the tag about $20.00+ per movie if you enjoy going alone!

All of the above are the reason I pulled my laptop to write this blog. This reason is very specific and as well, one that I don’t recall from my past TV viewing years. I am talking about a political ad against president Obama I saw between the transmission of NBC news. This ad, likely hit all the national TV stations that broadcast NBC news, maybe in all channels.
This ad presented people who, according to the it, are people who received substantial amounts of “bonus” money from Obama’s bailout to the financial corporations. And it states all of them contribute-d to Obama’s government or the bailout. The punch line is: “Obama won’t admit to supporting Wall Street, but Wall Street sure supports Obama.”

True? False? Or a plain exageration?

Although my first reaction was to think this is a blunt exaggeration of the truth, I was left wondering about any possible truth in it. A concerning truth. However, the face value of this ad is this: a blunt blow to the US president. I have trouble believing that a Super PAC would run into the possibility of being sued of libel. So, I wonder what is the truth? I acknowledge its value as a political campaign ad that aims to take credit away from the incumbent runner for the White House seat. But this premise questions two factors: Why that advertising money is not used to present the good values and points of the supported candidate instead? And how much of that ad is true? Nevertheless, removing one bad (Obama according to their account) doesn’t make the other one right. Frankly, my sentiment is: The White House and Mr. Obama should respond accordingly. And by that I don’t mean to counter attack with a similar ad but to put this matter to where it belongs. To present the truth or expose the lies about it – to the American people at large. But likely Obama will not reply to it because that would be throwing gas on the fire. That is what prompted me to pull my laptop and write this blog. Although political campaigns have done this type of misinformation since who knows how long, this particular republican campaign is the dirtiest and most toxic of all times. I know TV business is to make revenue, and ads make tons of it, but I am starting to believe that TV networks should exercise their criteria to present good material, including their ads in their programing. It is not a matter of free exercise of speech what should be entitled Super PACs what is at stake, but the type of material that the networks allow and not to be broadcasted. They have the right to do so.

My believe about the TV service, national and local, is that they should present – nothing less than – the truth. As well quality.  And if this ad is true, whether it disturbs me or not, it should be something exclusively to be exposed by the press and not in political ads. The entire media should be involved in investigating all details of a case like this one and present the important facts found AS THEY ARE. And to do it – based on reliable facts, facts that cannot be debated or manipulated, to be presented exclusively on their own merits and facts. But this ad doesn’t deliver that. What it does is distorts a possible truth against their opponent to gain that vote, but without merit. This ad is – way more wrong – that any of those distortions of reality and truth that many of the commercial channels present in their shows.
On that note: when I was reporting on communication issues at the Senate and House, during the ʻ80s and when broadcast TV was under scrutiny for their programing because the amount of sexual content and violence, I heard something that simply blew me away. CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox CEOʻs before the communications senate committee were asked: Why do you broadcast such content? This happened after many of the Senate speakers clearly and bluntly stated that the American people do not want that level of violence and sexuality and it is not positive for the American audience. The chairman of the Senate Communication’s Commission asked them why? If I recall well, NBC’s CEOʻs responded: We are in the business of making revenue, therefore we give to the public what they want to see. Otherwise we are out of business. We are a competitive industry and we always try to gain more audience than our competition, who as well offer the content that people want. This statement makes sense, since we are talking about multi-million investments.
Not all content on network TV is toxic. As well, many of those shows on paid TV are alike, even worse! My recollection about television immediately reminded me that many other countries in the world as well have substantial amounts of money invested in their operations , but their content is not as toxic as what American television overall. Nevertheless, I just remember that although it represents an expense that I could put to use in other more useful ways, this is one of the reasons I find myself spending the cost of my cable service: I have a choice!  When I am home, have done my daily chores, read my books, talked to my people, etc, I need to chill out. I call this time a “vegetating” moment in which I pick and choose something that entertains me and enlightens me.

Although not everyone can afford paid TV services, people still have a choice, I think! Not to watch negative television! Now that little voice inside my head that enjoys proving me wrong when it can, just told me: Yep, switch channels but you will find the competition is offering a similar show,  perhaps worse! But I responded, nuh! Anyone can switch to sports TV! But we both missed the entire point. And that point is: is the world and everything else changing that much and that badly? or is it just me? I’ll keep wondering and I will keep you posted.

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5 responses to “What’s up with our Television service?

  1. Arrrgh, lost my comment!!!
    Ok, try again, maybe more concise, too, hahaha
    Thank you again for a really thought-provoking article. I’ll try to be brief, but you know me . . .
    First, the political ad really ticks me off, and not because of my political preferences. Such “politattacks” never provide substantiated references, cite their sources, explain their underlying rationales. They simply present decontextualized images, soundbites, words, numbers, weave them into a subjective web, and pass it off as truth. My father used to say, “Figures don’t lie, but Liars sure do figure”. Everytime any kind of politattack, or “infomercial” airs, we should be saying , “Says who???”. We should be asking, “what aren’t you telling me? And WHY???”.
    Which leads to my second thought process, which is more in response to the topic of your piece. And that is that the state of broadcast media is the product of a negative synergy, driven largely by greed. The most significant factors are that 1) broadcast media is an incredibly seductive and influential power in shaping society’s behaviors, attitudes, values, and mores. 2) with this power, comes profound responsibility to society. 3) because broadcast media in the US is a corporate capitalist phenomena, it is driven primarily by greed and profit motives. Broadcast media willingly manipulates point 1) in the service of point 2). It largely ignores point 2), by saying “it’s what the viewers want”. With media’s power, they have influenced society to the point where it can no longe discern what quality programming is, and infact it no longer wants it. Broadcast media has become “the opiate of the masses”, and it is more than happy to keep the masses in a stupor.

    Only if media takes its social responsibility seriously, and begins to make intelligent, meaningful, thoughful programming the norm, rather than the exception, will the public’s tastes and demand change. At first, it might adversely affect corporate profit margins. But eventually, as society is detoxified, as people begin to ask those pointed questions of oc content such as politattack ads, quality programming will be as profitable for broadcast media as the stuff it flushes into the airwaves is currently.

    Wow, wouldn’t that be nice?

  2. Pingback: Reality TV shows can be…

  3. Wow! Your history and current views on TV could have been written by me! I agree 100%. That said, it seems unrealistic to hope that broadcast media could simply objectively report ‘the truth’. Sad, but true. Even in the best of cases, there is the issue of nuanced truth – where I ostensibly state the facts, but do so in a way that influences your judgment. (A dear friend of mine calls that ‘lying by omission’) Sometimes this is intentional; sometimes it is because they’re trying to discuss a complex subject in 30 seconds. Either way, the burden is on us to seek out a variety of viewpoints in order to truly understand the issue. The tragic thing is that a lot of people take the lazy way out, and don’t bother to try to truly understand.

    • Yes, it seems unrealistic to have any other expectation than getting hints here and there. BBC does a decent job when airing this type of news. And yes again, if we want to know the truth we got to do the leg work. Lazy you said? Yeah, that must be, that justifies why they are sort of asleep! Thank you for the comment and the visit Lisah!

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